The ‘in word’ in wine is ‘minerality’. There is of course considerable debate over what it means. Of course mineral elements don’t get transferred into wine from the vine. But the ‘taste’ or ‘feeling’ of minerals can certainly be seen in wine. Should we use the term or not? There are plenty of valid arguments either way. I love the term and use it all the time, because it coveys that fine, earthy flavour like no other. And it suggests a connection with where the grapes were grown and the soil in which the vines are grown.
Most winemakers who see minerality as a positive will make the association with a reductive character which is of course more winemaking and sulphide-related rather than any direct relationship with the earth and soil and its make-up. The terms ‘minerality’ and ‘flintiness’ could be interchangeable, and I’m not ashamed to say I do so.
Two whites served with dinner guest The I-Spy Man, showed flinty reduction which I was more than happy to describe as minerality. He didn’t disagree, and neither did SWMBO. I can see why some winemakers see reduction as the pathway to minerality.
The 2014 Te Whare Ra ‘SV5182’ Marlborough ‘D’ Riesling was sleek and pure with white stonefruits, limes, lemonade, white florals, and of course, mineral overtones, on nose and palate. Gorgeously sleek, still firm, mouthwatering and crisply refreshing. The flintiness still a support and just so perfect to make the wine an aperitif. Then the 2013 Neudorf ’25 Rows’ Moutere Chardonnay. Minimalist oaking, and I remember this taut and backward, with the flavour of wet stones. Chablis is an inspiration, but it isn’t as the terroir and chalk is not present in the Moutere clays. This has now put on weight, filled out and become rich in a sense, here the minerality originally a complexing layer of interest, now grown to be a major component of flavour. I like Chardonnay with oak input, but this doesn’t need it. Minerality has provided the depth.